Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Shot In the Arm for Childhood Immunization

I'm often critical of  conservative religious and political right wing adherents for  their absurd and regressive beliefs,e.g. creationism.. But the left is not exempt from equally untenable ideologies, two of which are postmodernism and its equally harebrained derivative, multiculturalism.

But there is one idea in particular held by many of those on the left that IMO is especially irrational: opposition to vaccinations, especially for children, based on the fear that such inoculations cause autism.  As this concern had already been scientifically shown to be baseless, I thought that the  issue  had already been resolved,. But according to a commentary, "The Vaccination Nation," that appeared in the March 1  edition of the online progressive newsletter, "Truthout", this misguided position is alive and kicking.

As I see it, most parents who refuse to accept the fact that there is no proven link between vaccines and autism and are thus against protecting their kids from childhood diseases are too young to remember the world before  protection against childhood illnesses was available. And "The Vaccine Nation" bears this out. Apparently, they can't comprehend the high infant mortality rate of those times and of the children who survived but were afflicted for life by the ravages that these diseases left behind.

For example, I recall  when the "good old summertime" was also the season for  outbreaks of polio which until the advent of the Salk vaccine in the 1950's crippled and paralyzed thousands of people in America, especially kids. Yet, one responder in the comment section of "The Vaccination Nation" who is anti-inoculation had the incredibly cruel temerity to say that Franklin D. Roosevelt had this disease but was still able to become president of the U.S. In other words in balancing the "risks" of inoculation against the possibility of contracting a crippling illness , the reader believes that the latter is an acceptable outcome.

And resistance to immunization is not totally confined to those on the political left.  According to the article, some people choose not to vaccinate for religious reasons and accordingly are exempted by local authorities from inoculation requirements.  However according to the article, "religion"-based refusals are often just a dodge. In either case those who reject inoculations are not only putting their own families at risk, but their communities as well.

"The Vaccine Nation" is an extremely comprehensive and well written analysis on the matter of vaccinations and vaccine safety. So whatever your take on the question, I think that you will find this essay a very worthwhile read.